Bourbonnais candidate says he offers unique perspective
Mike Zenz says finding solutions to key issues affecting Bourbonnais residents requires deep analysis – a skill he not only possesses, but one he is also passionate about and plans to use if he’s chosen as a village trustee.
“(Running for public office) is a brand-new enterprise; however, it’s extremely exciting,” Zenz told the Kankakee Times. “I’ve been entrenched in politics here (as a volunteer) for about two years now.”
Zenz was heavily involved in Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign last year and spent a lot of time knocking on doors and making phone calls. That work made him realize how passionate he was about connecting with people on political issues – and how good he is at it.
“As I got to do that more and more, I wanted to bring that to my local level,” Zenz said.
Once Cruz was out of the race, Zenz shifted his focus to local elections and looked for ways to support local candidates.
“I got involved in with our state Rep. Lindsey Parkhurst’s campaign and our Circuit Court Clerk (Sandra) Cianci and Jake Lee – he’s our auditor,” Zenz said.
A seven-year resident of Bourbonnais, Zenz said he approaches community issues from a resident’s point of view.
“I’m always a resident first, and I have a family that lives here in town,” he said. “The things that were important to people around the county and within our own village, I found were the same things that were important to me.”
Zenz was a delegate at the GOP 2016 State Convention in Peoria when he me Jeff Keast, a Bourbonnais trustee currently running for mayor.
“I met a bunch of great people down there, and that’s how I got to know Jeff,” he said.
Zenz graduated from Lewis University with a bachelor of arts degree in social work and human services with a minor in psychology and works as a human performance analyst, which involves finding and recommending solutions to company issues that improve performance.
This experience was one of the main reasons Keast wanted Zenz on the Bourbonnais GOP ticket this election cycle, Zenz said.
“I can look at the issues that go on with the village, and instead of just looking at it as a singular issue, I can look at it more holistically and deep dive into why those things happen and what causes them to happen,” he said.
Also on the GOP ticket for village trustee are Chris Deschand and Brad Arthur.
The team has launched a campaign, “Bring Back Bourbonnais,” in hopes of making changes to the way the village government operates.
Zenz said a key issue affecting Bourbonnais residents is taxes, which have continued to climb over the last several years.
Another issue Zenz would like to address in the village is economic growth.
A major intersection being constructed off a freeway on the north end of the village is a good investment that will allow people to have more access to the village, but the village still needs to draw major businesses, he said.
“When I say big businesses I mean something like a Costco or a Sam’s Club or Ikea – something like that, where they have high-paying jobs, great benefits and take cake care of their employees,” Zenz said. “And that’s what I feel we are missing.”
Zenz said such an addition would complement the great businesses already in town.
So far, the response to Zenz’s candidacy has been positive, he said.
“A lot of people are actually quite happy that I am running because I’m just a regular resident,” Zenz said. “I’m not somebody who’s got years in politics; I’m not somebody who has multiple different offices under his belt or something along those lines. It’s a fresh perspective.”